Even sixty years plus after his death actor James Dean continues to fascinate, here are ten facts you may not know about the iconic star.
James Dean was nominated for two posthumous Best Actor Oscars: In 1956, for East of Eden (he lost to Ernest Borgnine in Marty), and in 1957 for Giant (he lost to Yul Brynner in The King and I).
Jimmy was not speeding when he was killed on California’s Highway 466. (He was struck head-on by a Ford station wagon, driven by Donald Turnupseed, 23. ) Although Dean had received a speeding ticket an hour earlier, it has since been proven he was actually driving 60 to 65 mph when the accident occurred.
Jimmy was set to star in two films at the time of his death: The Left-Handed Gun: Billy the Kid’s Story and Somebody Up There Likes Me, about the life of boxer Rocky Graziano. Both roles were filled by Dean competitor Paul Newman.
Jimmy often referred to himself as “the little bastard,” a name he had painted on the back of his Porsche Spyder days before his death.
In November 1951, struggling actor Dean worked as an offscreen stunt tester on the N.Y.-based TV game show Beat the Clock.
Before his three starring film roles, Jimmy had bit parts in Fixed Bayonets, Sailor Beware and Has Anybody Seen My Gal?
Rumors have always run rampant that Jimmy had homosexual relationships. When asked about it, he answered enigmatically, “Well, I’m certainly not going to go through life with one hand tied behind my back.”
Jimmy’s famous red jacket from Rebel was purchased from Mattson’s department store on Hollywood Boulevard. Following his death, the store hiked the price on the jackets to a then exorbitant $22.95. Warner Bros. actually bought two of them for filming. Afterward, Jimmy gave one to his friend, composer Leonard Rosenman, who wore it until it fell apart. Nobody knows what happened to the other.
A week before his death, Jimmy ran into one of his favorite actors, Alec Guinness, at Hollywood’s Villa Capri. When an excited Dean showed Guinness his new Porsche Spyder, the British star begged him to get rid of it, saying Dean wouldn’t live long if he kept the car.
When Jimmy finally met his idol, Marlon Brando, at a party, he acted so strangely Brando told Leonard Rosenman that Jimmy needed to see a psychiatrist. Jimmy was already in therapy at the time.